The ridiculous reason why Hong Kong malls are extremely cold

Chinese shoppers walk past Hugo Boss store at a shopping mall in BeijingREUTERS/Jason LeeShoppers keep their coats on while walking past a Hugo Boss store.

It’s a common problem that come summer, everyone in Hong Kong gets a cold. It has nothing to do with the temperatures outside, but instead the constant and unrelenting air conditioning inside.

“Often I have been to TST on shopping mall visits — yes, that’s my job — and end up shivering in the Cartier, Chanel, Duty Free Shoppers, and Omega stores as the air conditioning was on full throttle,” HSBC managing director Ewan Rambourg writes in his book “The Bling Dynasty: Why the Reign of Chinese Luxury Shoppers Has Only Just Begun.” “In Hong Kong, freezing is good.”

A Time Out Hong Kong report on air conditioning abuse found that the luxurious IFC mall was kept at a frigid 59 degrees

Fahrenheit, while the local grocery stores were as cold as 54 degrees.

Temperatures are so cold that some people own an “indoor jacket” for their shopping trips.

So why does Hong Kong keep its temperatures so cold? Rambourg believes it’s about keeping up the perception of luxury.

Intrigued and frankly annoyed as I started sneezing when it was summer outside, I finally asked a shopping attendant why I felt I needed a duffel coat or, better, one of those fashionable Moncler down jackets in their store despite the heat outside,” he wrote. “And there I had it: it’s chic, it’s luxury, it’s a sign of wealth.”

And the tactic is effective. One shopper told Time Out HK that malls that didn’t have air conditioning would be judged as “more primitive” by consumers.

“They don’t have incentive to adjust the temperature, so they keep it as low as they can,” Melonie Chau, member of environmental group Friends of the Earth, told the Wall Street Journal.

Hong Kong IFC mallWikimedia CommonsThe IFC Mall in Hong Kong is 800,000 square feet and has over 200 stores.

Those cold temperatures come at quite a cost.

It’s estimated that air conditioning in Hong Kong makes up as much as 30% of all electricity used in the city each year, and that number skyrockets to as much as 60% during the summer, according to Time Out HK.

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